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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cash Peters is an award-winning British journalist, author, and broadcaster, based in Los Angeles. He has worked on the BBC, NPR, and CNN, as well as hosting his own show on Travel Channel.
He is the author of eleven books, including Force of Habit: Sister Madeleine Investigates (2012 Penner Press), and the latest, Horror at Horsfield Lodge: A Chillingley Village Mystery (2013 Penner Press).
Cash is also an intuitive handwriting analyst. He’s written three additional books on the subject and appeared numerous times on radio and TV.
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Nobody likes a braggart, least of all me. In England especially, it’s considered undignified to go around tooting your own horn. However, just this once, as a Brit, I’m going to break the rules and boast about something.
I am one of the best handwriting analysts in the world.
I may even be THE best handwriting analyst in the world.
This is not my opinion, by the way – now, that would be undignified – it’s the response from people after they see my work.
When I look at a piece of cursive script it comes alive. The words themselves remain just words on a page, obviously; but the energy the person invested in those words when he or she wrote them really speaks to me. Sometimes it even yells at me – that’s how powerful this is. Hard to explain how or why. It’s an intuitive knowing – even some form of channeling maybe. But whatever’s behind it, I discovered I had this remarkable gift twenty years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Many times I can see, not only a person’s character in their writing, but their emotional history too, tracking the breadcrumbs of their life and exploring what led them to the point they’re at today, as well as the various obstacles and issues they’re facing. I don’t know the facts of their life, of course, because I don’t know the person. Nevertheless, I’m still able very often to feel their pain, their frustrations, their hopes, their challenges - holding up a mirror, reflecting their emotions and issues back at them. It’s like I’m poking around in their very soul. No kidding. That’s how powerful it can be.
Aside from that, I also write books, including, most recently, a couple of mystery novels. So it was probably inevitable that at some point I’d feature a character who can interpret handwriting. How often are authors given the advice: write about what you know? Well, I certainly know about this, and last year I thought, hey, why not? How great would it be to make this skill integral to the solving of a murder case?
That’s what happens in my latest: Horror at Horsfield Lodge: A Chillingley Village Mystery.
The backdrop is a cozy, tranquil British village deep in the rolling leafy folds of southern England. However, that all changes one cold wintry night when two dead bodies are discovered in an old abandoned gatehouse.
This isn’t the place to be summarizing the plot, so I won’t. All I will say is that a campaign is being waged against a leading member of the community by someone with a taste for the macabre, who plots her downfall using poisoned pen letters. So you can see straight away that it lends itself perfectly to a handwriting analyst helping solve the clues.
Nobody even knows that the character in question has this secret skill, which is not only how things are in the fictional village of Chillingley, but also in the tiny village I lived in during my teens in England. I spent most of my formative years in a pastoral backwater like this, a peaceful corner of the world where everyone knows everyone else’s business and bad news spreads like a flu epidemic, but always in secret, always behind closed doors. During that time, having a ‘special gift’ like this was considered an embarrassment, and I was forced to keep it largely to myself.
Americans, though, are not like that - thankfully. They don’t believe in false modesty. ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it’ is the mantra over here, so when I moved to L.A. my gift generated a massive reaction. I even went on The View once, and Entertainment Tonight a couple of times, to demonstrate this skill.
Still, today, my clients are blown away. They say things like: “It’s the first time in my life anyone has really seen me.” Often they tell me they cried. One radio host earlier this year said she’d read her analysis, then gone into the garage, locked the door, and screamed for an hour. Unbelievable.
As far as actually writing a book involving handwriting goes, though, there was one problem. You’ve probably guessed it already.
Having your writing analyzed is always fascinating, but the nitty-gritty process of compiling the analysis is not interesting at all. I mean at all. And since, as an author, the last thing you want is to bore your readers, the challenge became to figure out a way to give the story a cunning twist, one that wove in the handwriting analysis angle deftly without sending the audience to sleep.
I think I’ve done that with Horsfield Lodge. It would be selfish of me to tell you how everything pans out. No spoilers here; I’ll leave you to discover it for yourself. All I know is that the book was huge fun to write. My own handwriting analysis expertise adapted appropriately to being used to solve murder clues, and, above all, the reader is not bored for a single second.
Now, having come this far, I’m wondering: could what began as a simple one-off idea for a mystery have the legs to turn into an entire series? We shall see.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD YOUR HANDWRITING ANALYZED? HAVE A COMMENT or ask Cash a question by commenting below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win an e-copy of his latest, HORROR AT HORSFIELD LODGE!
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